It has been a little over a year since The Craftsman Agency was born, and we thought this would be the perfect time to look back and share some tips from our rebranding process and launch. After all, a rebrand is a lot of work, but it can be worthwhile—as long as you set yourself up for success.
So how do you do it? Here are five valuable lessons we learned from our own brand makeover.
1. Listen to your gut, but also test your concept with trusted people.
The Craftsman Agency was rebranded from our old company, Union+Webster, an integrated agency. While we had enjoyed five strong years as Union+Webster, Gina Michnowicz, our CEO, saw fundamental shifts on the marketing horizon, and she knew that these shifts would create a space where we could really shine. She saw that people were fatiguing from all the marketing messages bombarding them on a daily basis. Instead, they sought more human connection. They wanted to be entertained. They desired, simply, more magic. She also realized clients were picking up ideas that were art-based. This was the impetus of The Craftsman mission.
The Craftsman Agency mission: Create magical moments that infuse the global market with artistic experiences, creative storytelling, and quality craftsmanship.
Gina first talked about the potential shift with some key people internally, and then we chatted openly with our board of directors, a few long-time clients, and a couple of friendly prospective clients about the potential rebrand and what it meant for us and the overall market. Not everyone agreed we should make the change, but most believed that our new direction had a great foundation, and they gave candid feedback that helped as we made the leap. Launching The Craftsman was scary, but we knew that it was the right thing to do.
So listen to your gut, but also talk to people you trust who will give you honest feedback.
2. Make sure your brand is on point.
When we first started talking about the rebrand, Gina and I had a clear idea of what it would look like visually and how it would take form. From the start, we were aligned on the vision. However, that doesn’t mean we didn’t do a lot of work on every element of the brand.
We talked for hours about how we saw the brand coming to life. We spent over a month on our brand book, which included our brand personality, mission and vision statements, messaging, logos, and guidelines on the look and imagery. Our whole team got an opportunity to provide input on our mission and vision statements as well as our logo design. After all, these are critical elements, and we wanted to make sure the team had a chance to weigh in and provide their insights. The conversations helped us ensure that the final results clearly conveyed exactly who we are and what we stand for.
So before you roll anything out, make sure your new brand elements are all on point. It’s impossible to make a splash if you’re still finding yourself.
3. Rally your team.
As mentioned above, we talked to the team well before our official launch to make sure they were aligned with the transition. And we didn’t just ask them for input on key elements, we also walked through the brand guidelines and then had each member create a brief presentation called “My Craft.” Through this exercise, we learned a lot about how the team viewed themselves both at work and personally. It also helped them see how they already connected with The Craftsman and how they could develop skills that fit with our shop’s mission.
This rallying of your team is so crucial. They need to believe in the new brand, and they need to understand how to talk to people about it. And perhaps most importantly, they have to see the future of the company and where they fit in the bigger picture.
4. Stay true to your new brand.
A rebrand needs to be more than a shift in the company name. It should be a shift in how you conduct business and the work that you deliver.
After we launched, we ensured that our mission statement became our north star. We started including it in every proposal and client presentation as well as making it part of our weekly all-hands meeting. And, of course, to call ourselves The Craftsman Agency, we must deliver craftsmanship marketing—so that’s exactly what we make sure we do. Here are examples from our work on creative campaign themes for two of our clients, FlexPod and Malwarebytes. To help FlexPod stand out in the market, we developed a compelling new creative theme that would inspire the audience as well as connect with FlexPod’s ability to orchestrate data in order to achieve tremendous results: “Data Orchestrated. That’s FlexPod.” We also crafted the accompanying design and messaging.
For Malwarebytes, we created a bold, modern theme that focused on the value Malwarebytes brings to the customer while keeping its iconic logo front and center. The fresh new look worked well both with and without photography.
In some cases, we have said no to work because it doesn’t fit our mission. It’s important to have your clients want the same thing from the journey. It’s okay to say no when it doesn’t.
Staying true to your new brand takes a lot of effort at first, as you need to carefully review everything you’re putting out into the world to make sure it aligns, but it becomes easier and easier as the brand feels more and more like what your company has always been meant to be.
5. Be ready to make some adjustments.
A rebrand isn’t done as soon as you launch. Our launch went extremely smoothly. We were prepared and had thought things through. However, no matter how smooth your launch, there will most likely be some adjustments you’ll want to make.
When we launched, we decided to keep the legacy of Union+Webster, thinking that it would act as a holding company for focused businesses. But after the first year, we realized that to truly move forward, we needed to sunset all things Union+Webster. We’re still proud of where we came from, but we now see that our future businesses connect more with The Craftsman.
We also adjusted some of our brand imagery guidance since launching, and we recently changed our internal project management system. These may be on opposite sides of the running-a-creative-shop spectrum, but both were necessary to better align with our goals.
Flexibility and agility are key parts of doing something new and unknown. Be aware of how to improve and tweak processes to create a better company, environment, and overall work. It requires bravery and focus on your mission.
I hope these tips help you in your rebrand. I know it can be scary...but when it’s done well, it can be incredible.
As for us, we’re thrilled with what we’ve accomplished in just a year, seeing how the new brand resonates with clients and creating great work that aligns with our north star. We’re also looking forward to seeing what’s next for The Craftsman. One great sign for the future: hearing how our brand mission resonated at Cannes.
Interested in working with us? Get in touch.